How Much Does It Cost to Install or Convert to a Saltwater Pool?
$600 – $2,200 Conversion
$29,000 – $57,000 New Install
$29,000 – $57,000 New Install
The average cost to install an inground saltwater pool is $29,000 to $57,000. To convert from a chlorine pool to a salt water swimming pool, expect to spend $600 to $1,100 for an above-ground pool, and between $1,100 and $2,200 for an inground pool. Get free estimates from saltwater pool builders near you or check out our cost guide below.
Salt Water Pool Cost
The average cost to build a new salt water pool is $36,400, with most spending between $29,000 and $57,000 depending on the size, shape, and material of the pool. This price includes the salt water chlorination system which converts a chlorine pool to a saltwater pool for $600 to $2,200.
Saltwater pools do not need any chemicals added and don't have a chlorine smell. A salt chlorine generator uses electrolysis to turn the salt and water to chlorine to keep the water clean. Salt only needs to be added a few times a year and feels gentle on the skin and eyes. By converting to salt water, pool maintenance is easier, making it an excellent long-term choice for new pool owners.
|National Average Cost||$36,400|
|Average Range||$29,000 to $57,000|
Table of Contents
- Install Cost Estimator
- Labor Costs
- Above Ground vs. Inground
- Saltwater Lap Pools
- Pros and Cons of Materials
- Water Delivery Costs
Converting Chlorine Pool To Saltwater Costs
The cost to convert a chlorine pool to a saltwater pool ranges from $600 to $2,200. A 10,000-gallon above ground pool costs $872 to convert, while a 50,000-gallon inground pool can be converted for $1,650. This price covers the salt water chlorination system, ample bags of salt, and installation.
|Item||Above Ground Pool
|Salt Water System||$250 – $550||$550 – $1,350|
|Installation by a Professional||$300 – $500||$300 – $500|
|40 lb. Bags of Salt||$64 – $80 for 8 bags||$250 – $350 for 33 bags|
|Total Cost||$614 – $1,130||$1,100 – $2,200|
Salt Water Pool vs. Chlorine Pool Cost
The difference in the cost of a salt water pool vs. a chlorine pool lies mainly in the cost of chlorine and the initial purchase of the salt system. Both pools use chlorine to keep algae and other bacteria away, providing a healthy environment for swimming.
A salt water pool creates chlorine with a chlorine generator from the salt added to the water. The “cell” which is the part that generates the chlorine will need replacing every 3 – 6 years at the cost of about $800. You will also need salt a few times per year at an average price of $10 per 40-pound bag.
In comparison, a chlorine pool needs to have chlorine added quite often. How often depends on the size of your pool and the results of your weekly water testing. It’s typical to go through 1 – 2 buckets of chlorine tablets a year at the cost of $100 to $755 in addition to other balancing chemicals.
How Much Salt Do I Need When I Change Over My Pool?
When converting to saltwater, you’ll need about 440 pounds of salt for a 15,000-gallon inground pool or around 11 bags of salt. Ideally, the ratio of salt to water is 2,700 – 3,400 parts per million (ppm). At 3,500 ppm, humans can taste and sense salt, but at around 3,000 ppm of dissolved salt in the pool, the water will feel soft and silky.
Salt Water Pool Conversion Pros and Cons
|Uses electricity to create chlorine from the salt.||Salt can be corrosive on metal, necessitating the repair of metal parts. The pool pump might not last as long.|
|No chlorine smell. Water is softer and gentle on the skin and eyes.||pH levels can be high with salt, and frequent testing must be done.|
|Salt is cheap.||The initial cost is high, due to the need for an electrolyzer.|
|No chemicals needed. Salt only needs to be added a few times a year.||The electrolyzer can need frequent maintenance and will need to be replaced every few years.|
Salt Water Pool System Considerations
- The salt cell will need to be replaced every 3 – 6 years at the cost of about $500 to $800. Without a functioning salt cell, chlorine will not be created from the salt, and your pool environment will suffer.
- The saltwater that is splashed onto anything metal will eventually corrode that metal. It should be rinsed off as soon as possible.
- Saltwater will kill surrounding grass and some plants.
- A saltwater pool needs to be tested weekly with salt and pH levels rebalanced.
- Salt buildup must be cleaned off the salt cell and pool interior regularly.
- Salt can corrode specific metal rails, steps, etc., so don’t install these in or near the pool.
How To Convert a Pool to a Saltwater Pool
- Choose your salt system and the additional features you want it to have—digital readers, self-cleaning abilities, etc.
- Figure out your pool power source setup – 3-prong or twist-lock plug.
- Hook up your salt cell to your plumbing line with a return jet or hose/pipe.
- Test the water.
- Turn off salt chlorine generator.
- Add salt according to your saltwater system manual and the number of gallons in your pool. Use salt that’s at 99.8% NaCl. Brush the water around to speed up the dissolving process.
- Turn the salt chlorinator on and run it for 24 hours.
Cost of Inground Saltwater Pool
The cost to install an inground saltwater pool starts at $18,000 for a small fiberglass pool, up to $62,000 or more for a large concrete pool. The cost to build a pool depends on how level the ground is, the size and type of pool, and any additional features such as waterfalls or jets.
Salt Water Pool Cost Estimator
The cost to build an inground saltwater pool is about the same as a traditional pool that's chlorinated plus $1,100 to $2,200. The extra cost is attributed to the price of the salt system, installation, and bags of salt.
|Pool Size||Average Cost To Install|
|10x16||$16,000 – $26,000|
|10x20||$19,300 – $28,200|
|10x30||$28,400 – $41,200|
|12x20||$22,900 – $33,400|
|12x24||$27,300 – $39,700|
|12x30||$33,900 – $49,000|
|14x28||$36,800 – $53,200|
|15x20||$28,400 – $41,200|
|15x30||$42,100 – $60,700|
|16x32||$47,700 – $68,700|
|18x36||$60,100 – $86,500|
|20x40||$73,900 – $106,200|
|25x45||$103,500 – $148,500|
|30x50||$137,600 – $197,200|
- Size – The size of the pool will determine much of the price, as your salt system is bought based on how many gallons the pool holds. Oversizing your salt system can prolong the life of the system as it doesn’t have to run as frequently.
- Location – The more grading and excavating you need to have done, the more it will cost. If the ground is level to begin with, and the only groundwork that needs doing is excavating for the hole, you’ll save some money.
Labor Cost To Install Saltwater Pool
The labor cost of a saltwater pool installation runs from $8,000 to $30,000. The lowest price doesn’t include the excavation, but it does include all installation work. Excavation costs about $9.22 per cubic yard to a 6-foot depth, so it would cost about $920 to dig a hole big enough for a 15 x 20’ pool and $1,230 for a 20’ x 30’ pool. The highest cost is usually all-inclusive and includes the patio, fencing, plumbing, and electrical work.
Above-ground pool salt systems are much easier to set up, and can sometimes be installed in less than an hour, or have it installed professionally for $300 – $500.
Above Ground Salt Water Pool Cost
The cost to install an above ground saltwater pool is $3,000 to $8,000 depending on the size of the pool and the labor costs. Converting an above ground pool to salt water costs $600 to $1,200, which includes the salt water chlorination system, salt, and professional labor.
- The yearly cost of additives for your salt water above-ground pool runs from $250 to $750 a year, depending on the size of the pool.
- An above-ground pool usually needs to be replaced every 7 – 15 years, costing another $3,000 – $8,000.
- When you purchase an above-ground salt water pool kit, all kits include the pool frame, the liner, the salt system, and the pump and sand filter. Most kits will also contain a cleaning kit, a ladder, a cover, and a ground cloth.
Inground Pool Comparison
- The total cost to install an inground saltwater pool ranges from $27,000 to $60,000.
- Concrete typically need to be replastered every 8 to 12 years for $6,000 to $10,000.
- Vinyl pool liners usually need to be replaced every ten years, but saltwater can break these down faster if the pH levels are not monitored continuously. A new pool liner costs $3,000 or more to install or replace.
Salt Water Lap Pools
An inground lap pool costs between $18,200 and $78,000 on average for the pool itself, and another $1,100 to $2,200 for the salt system turning it into a saltwater pool. Since the original cost includes a standard pool pump, there is a good chance you could exchange that one for a salt water system.
|60 x 20||$109,200||$140,400||$156,000|
|30 x 20||$54,600||$70,200||$78,000|
|20 x 10||$18,200||$23,400||$26,000|
Salt Water Pool Pros and Cons
Of the three main types of pool materials, fiberglass pools are the most durable for saltwater pools, but all three can be used. Check out our salt water pool cost comparison chart below.
|Fiberglass||$9,000 – $24,000 with delivery costs of $600 – $2,500||
|Vinyl||$35,000 – $65,000||
|Concrete||$50,000 – $100,000||
|Shotcrete||$50,000 – $100,000||
- Salt Water Fiberglass Pool – The best option with a saltwater system as salt doesn’t affect fiberglass and maintenance costs are lower.
- Salt Water Vinyl Pool – Take more care using a vinyl-liner pool with a saltwater system. Some of the parts where the liner attaches to the edge can corrode if saltwater gets inside, and the pool itself can be damaged if there are rips in the liner. The saltwater metals can also begin to rot a pool’s steel walls.
- Gunite Salt Water Pool – Saltwater can be rough on the concrete, and it might not last as long as it would with a conventional system.
- Shotcrete Salt Water Pool – It’s more likely to crack, at which point the saltwater can do damage.
Pool Water Delivery Cost
A 15,000-gallon pool will cost from $80 to $160 using your garden hose or $600 to $1,200 trucked in. While it’s entirely possible to fill your pool with a garden hose, it will take some time. A water tanker holds about 9,000 lbs. of water, and you’ll need a tanker and a half of water. It costs more to hire tankers, but it is much faster.
- City Water – Having a pool can increase your water bill by about $4 to $20 per month, due to the 2 inches per week loss of water per day due to evaporation. The average price per gallon of water ranges from $0.002/gallon (in Tennessee) to $0.011/gallon (in San Francisco, California).
- Well Water – Well water isn’t treated whereas city water is. The metals and minerals can stain your pool wall and possibly turn the water brown. You can filter the water before it goes into the pool with something like a Hayword Bobby filter ($32) on the end of your garden hose which filters out the impurities, or treat the water once it’s in the pool with a metal control treatment or water clarifier.
Salt Water Pool Equipment Cost
It is recommended to purchase a salt water pool chlorinator that is rated for a pool larger than the one you have, to put less strain on the motor and keep it working efficiently, keeping chlorine in your pool.
|Pump||$690 – $920||$500 and up|
|Filter||$500 – $1,600
(pump + filter)
|$100 – $400
Salt Water Pool Pump
- A salt water pool pump for an inground pool will cost from $690 to $920 for pools 15,000 – 40,000 gallons of water in size.
- For above-ground salt water pools that are larger, you’ll pay $500 and up for a pump rated up to 18,000 gallons.
Also, consider buying a pump that takes some of the work out of maintenance—one with a digital display, LED indicators, self-cleaning, water flow detector, low or overload salt detectors, temperature protection, etc. An advanced control panel allows you to set the desired amount of chlorine output, with indicators for temperature, salt level, and water flow.
Salt Water Pool Filters
The cost for an in-ground salt water pool pump with a filter is $500 to $1,600. Salt water filters are filled with sand, as that is an effective and affordable method of filtering the water.
For an above-ground pool, a pump and filter system costs $220 for 2,600 – 8,500 gallons of water. If you have a larger pool than that, expect to pay $280 for 4,800 – 15,000 gallons of water. Filters only for above-ground salt water pools cost from $100 to $400.
Salt Water Pool Heater
Inground salt water pool heaters cost between $550 to over $10,000, with most pool owners spending from $2,200 to $3,500, and another $400 to $500 for installation. What drives the difference in heater prices for pool heaters is how much water you need to heat, and what the rise in temperature is from the average coldest temperature to the desired water temperature. A heater for an above-ground salt water pool costs from $50 to $200.
- Electric tankless water heaters are suitable for small pools that don’t need for the temperature to rise too much, and these generally start between $500 and $600.
- Larger and more powerful electric pool water heaters average between $1,500 and $3,500, while the similar gas-powered pool water heaters fall between $800 and $2,500.
- Electric pump water heaters cost anywhere from $2,500 to $10,000 and these work in hotter climates and transfer the heat in the air to the water in the pool, and they do so very economically.
- A salt water pool heater for your inground pool will cost $50 to $250 per month in electrical costs.
Installing Saltwater Pool Extras
There are many extras you can purchase to enhance your swimming experience.
- Add a Salt Water Hot Tub – any hot tub can be turned into a salt water hot tub, but you can get a molded, hexagonal tub for $2,000. For an inground hot tub, costs can reach around $20,000.
- Handicap Pool Lift – A handicap pool lift is available for in-ground pools. One version with a seat that lowers into the water costs $3,355. There are many options for handicap pool lifts, making the pool accessible to nearly every person.
- Patio or deck – a concrete pool deck can cost from $3,000 to $10,000, depending on size, design, and complexity.
- Pool Enclosure – can cost between $6,000 – $8,000
- Pool Fence – costs from $600 – $4,400
- Water Features
- Waterfall – $200 – $15,000
- Bubbler – $450 – $700 each
- Deck jets – $500 – $1000 each
- Landscaping Rocks – most landscaping rocks are faux due to the cost of shipping and limited inventory on rocks. A 21” x 21” hollow rock costs $90.
Salt Water Pool Maintenance
Salt water pool maintenance costs about $45 per month if you do it yourself, and $80 to $150 per month if you pay a cleaning service. You can save on this cost if you close the pool for a few months every winter for around $300. Your salt water pool will need to be cleaned regularly from debris that falls or blows into it, dust that settles in the water, and salt buildup—salt solids can collect on the bottom of the pool.
Depending on the price you pay, weekly services can include:
- Water testing and balancing
- Backwashing filter
- Cleaning out skimmer and pump baskets
- Cleaning out auto pool cleaner bag
- Brushing pool walls and floor if needed
- Skimming the pool surface
- Vacuuming the pool
Salt Water Pool Care
- Inspect the salt cell every few months. Most will have an indicator light that will tell you when it needs to be replaced. Replacing the cell in the salt chlorine generator every 3 – 6 years costs $800 ($100 less than if you had a regular chlorinated pool).
- Once a week, you must test the water for pH and chlorine levels.
- Once a month, test the water for salinity levels. Many chlorinators will have a display reading that tells you the level, but it’s a good idea to check.
- Keep the pool filter, pump, and surface clean. If the filter becomes clogged, the chlorinator will not create chlorine.
- Salt cells must be cleaned regularly as salt can build up, but this can also be taken care of by a self-cleaning salt system.
- Salt corrodes causing metal stains and corrosion, so the generator cells must be cleaned every 3 – 4 months with a mild acid wash to descale the corrosion buildup. Saltwater splashed out of the pool onto the coping can build up and cause corrosion too. This is fixed easily by regularly washing the salt away.
Salt Water Pool Cleaning
The cost of a salt water pool cleaning for a pool up to 20’ x 40’ can include:
- Drain the pool for $175.
- Pool brushing for $85/hour.
- Vacuuming for $120 to $270 or $85 per hour.
- Draining and cleaning at $650.
Saltwater Pool Chemicals
- Chlorine levels should stay between 1 – 3 ppm. The salt system produces the chlorine.
- Calcium hardness should stay at 50 – 300 ppm for vinyl, 220 – 320 ppm for fiberglass, and 350 – 450 ppm for plaster.
- Cyanuric acid should rest at 70 – 80 ppm for outdoor pools.
- Keep salt levels at the recommended level. A 40 lb. bag of salt is $6 –$50 depending on its quality. Some salt water chlorine generators use a high-tech cell that sends you readouts of your water’s salt levels, cleanliness, temp, and flow, saving you testing time. Salt cells can give reading failures regarding salt levels, so always test the water itself before adding more salt.
- The pH level tends to be higher in salt water pools. Testing often is recommended and then adjust the pH level with an application of muriatic acid to decrease alkalinity or sodium bicarbonate to increase it. The pH level should fall between 7.2 – 7.8.
Salt Water Pool Test Kit
A salt water pool test kit costs about $15 to $55, and saltwater test strips cost $11 to $25 for 40. A test kit lets you know if you need to rebalance the salinity and pH level of your saltwater. To keep a healthy pool, the water should be tested once a week. Not all salt water pool test kits give results for the salinity of the water, so check to make sure the one you want to purchase gives that result.
What Is the Annual Cost of a Salt Water Pool?
If you hire a pool service company, the annual maintenance cost of a salt water pool is about $970 to $1,700 per year and $300 or more to open or close the pool. The average price of electricity, depending on where you live, will be from $780 to $1,200 a year. The pump must run continually to produce chlorine. Replacement parts and repair can run from $250 to $1,500.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are The Benefits of a Salt Water Pool?
- The salt added to your pool softens the water, making it kinder to your skin.
- Saltwater contains bromide, which is good for aching joints, making your swim therapeutic.
- There’s no irritation of eyes or skin, or green hair, from the higher levels of chlorine in a non-saltwater pool.
- Traditionally chlorinated pools can have adverse effects on those with breathing problems.
What Are Salt Water Pool Health Risks?
There are very few health risks associated with saltwater pools. The salt is odorless, and it has very few risks for allergic reactions — the salt results in fewer chloramines which reduce eye irritation and chlorine smell.
Can You Be Allergic To Salt Water Pools?
Many people have allergies to chemical chlorine, but very few people have allergies to salt or the chlorine it produces.
How Do Salt Water Pools Work?
A saltwater pool needs a salt water chlorination system to function correctly. The salt system contains an electrolyzer which generates chlorine from the salt and water as the salt water passes through an electrical current. The process results in fewer chloramines, which softens the water, is good for aching joints, and doesn't smell like chlorine.
Get free estimates on HomeGuide from trusted inground pool installation companies:
21 Homeowners' Project Costs on HomeGuide. HomeGuide.com.
Pool Care Guy. https://poolcareguy.com/convert-pool-salt-water/
In The Swim. https://www.intheswim.com/eGuides/saltwater-pool-guide
Inyo Pools. http://www.inyopools.com/Blog/converting-your-pool-to-saltwater/
Saltwater Pool&Spa. https://www.saltwaterpoolandspa.com/swimming-pool-maintenance-cost.html
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